Traditional Publishing

International Poetry Competition

Twelfth poetry competition winners

The Twelfth International Poetry Competition closed on November 1, 2013 (click here to enter the current competition). Deliberation over the final line-up of winners was long and hard, but by January 2014 the following successful entrants were announced:


Congratulations to Sam Szanto, from Twickenham, United Kingdom, who wins £500 for submitting the winning poem: "Night-light".

Sam Szanto was born in Eastbourne, England, and now lives in Twickenham with her husband, baby son and neurotic tabby cat. She has worked in numerous professional capacities, from ice-cream kiosk attendant to marketing officer for a national blind charity, and is now a freelance proofreader and copy-editor. In 2009, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, where she wrote much of her first novel. As well as poetry, she also writes short stories and has been published online and in print. The poem "Night-light" was written in the glow of new motherhood.


In the night-light, I watch your eyelashes
lengthen. You snuffle and squeak as you
feed, my little pig. You soberly suck,
my small life locked into your rosebud lips.

You are my first responsibility,
A watery sun I revolve around;
I teeter on the edges of my self,
moon-tide milk flowing from my bruised body.

Life ended and started when you began,
pushed out from under my skin, but still in;
we’re marooned together in the soft dark,
your eating imperative, half-violent.

As I tiptoe with you to your basket,
a bird’s yellow song creeps into the room
tangling with your sounds: mewls, snores, grunts, snarfles;
then quick, sharp breaths as you roam dream country.

Some unknown evil makes you wake and wail.
I swoop. Your appalled mouth is a door shoved
open, cries spilling out, echoing through
time. Every mother runs to that red sound.

I breast-bury your sad-indignant vowels
The night growing around us. Days tighten.
We are in limbo, suspended between
lives, waiting for the people we will be.

I still expect you to vanish at night,
my refugee, so new to this country.
The fact of you is thin and silvery,
but you’re more important to me than me.

US runner-up

Congratulations to Leigha Miceli, of Orlando, Florida, who wins $150 for submitting the best runner-up entry from the United States with the poem "Unconditional".

"I was born and raised in Orlando, Florida where I currently live with my family when I'm not busy exploring the world. Born in 1989, I am 24 years old and a recent graduate from The University of Central Florida. I have always had a passion for writing and used as an outlet for anything I am feeling so naturally poetry became one of my favorite hobbies. I draw inspiration for my writing style from Charles Bukowski and Clementine Von Radics. I have just recently begun entering into poetry competitions, and I am proud to say this is the first one I have placed in.

Currently, I am working on a personal travel blog as well as freelance articles here and there for travel websites."


I pity any being that looks at you with eyes of desire
and an open soul for the taking.
When you mirror them with your sunrise eyes,
they will see me in the back of your mind.
They will see I am the heart of your soul and I am
harder than ever before
I want them to see me grow from you like vines with every breath you take wrapping you up tightly

[I wish they were my arms]

They will see my fingerprints all over your skin
and they will dare to touch you.
And when they feel the curve of your body in all of its beauty
you will feel me
but it won't be right.
You'll think about how when I touched you there
you would spark
and I would ignite.

When they sing your name in a sea of blankets
it won't be the symphony that fell off of my lips.
You give yourself away and you've never felt so wrong
I'll taste it in your tears
and I'll hear it in your broken voice.

I will love you when your hands are dirty.
I will love you when your hands are clean.

UK runner-up

Congratulations to Clare Ferguson-Walker of Whitland, Pembrokeshire, who wins £100 for entering the best runner-up poem from the United Kingdom, "I am part of all that I have met".
"I was born in Carmarthen West Wales in 1978, and still reside with my husband and children in the beautiful Welsh country side. For as long as I can remember I have loved writing, particularly poetry, and I won my first poetry competition when I was 18. I fell in love with the works of Emily Dickinson and John Donne whilst studying and would site both those poets as strong influences. I have yet to find another artistic outlet that allows the creator such open honesty or one that can deliver such a powerful impact in so concise a form.

I began teaching creative writing to adults several years ago, and am currently working on my first novel in between looking after my two young children, and one teenager."

I am part of all that I have met

The day she passed, saw condensation form in heavy droplets, begging to roll tear like down the cheek of cold sleek glass. Garden framed, tiny fluctuating strokes by natures brush, a seasonal palette dictating. The phone rang then, Dad's voice, tiny from a box of tissues. Moved back to the boy.1.05 am it was declared. No fanfare, one nurse, a crowd of photographs bore witness, a room brim full of ghosts welcomed one more into their sepia tinted paradigm. There was talk of D.N.A, eternal life a breathing thing. Mum made sandwiches. Memory, a cold pool. The breath weight of words enough to tip a domino falling like a shot soldier in WW1, all lined up like we used to do over the melamine table, as you’d hark on about Maggie’s rule as the veg got boiled to death. Another falls, your only child, a beacon burning with tomorrow, smothered, became a hoarder, text books, fossils, all earthly stuff. All down now, the illusion of separation broken by gravities suck. A woman of means, like you all were. “Work first then play” a chisel scratched groove to your needle tongue. And what of the girl? A pensive spring, a lark, a happy thief, sweets disappearing into sleeves, a worm down the back of the neck dropper, a stepping stone hopper. All coiled, boiled down to that dusty, fragile as a broken bird skin bag, devoid of teeth, morphine pupils drinking light for the last time. Hands touched, flesh reaching across time. I’m still standing, a monument in flux.

Special commendations

Ten special commendations go out to the following entrants (in no particular order):

You can enter the current competition by clicking here